Fifty years of history are recorded. . .

The following was copied from the 1961 Warrior.  It was mechanically copied into text, which process could result in errors.

If you find any, please inform us.

SEPTEMBER 18, 1911

Memphis' new Central High School opens! Memphis High School, built in 1897 on Poplar Avenue and at present housing the Memphis Board of Education, adequately met the educational demands of Memphis for a decade. Then the rapidly growing population of the city made obvious the need for larger and better high school facilities. In 1908, the city purchased from the family of John T. Overton thirteen acres of land extending from Raleigh Avenue (now South Bellevue) to Cleveland and from Overton Street (now Linden Avenue) to an alley parallel to and north of Peabody Avenue. By 1909 construction on a modern, well-equipped high school had begun, and the school year 1911- 1912 began in the new building, Central High School.  Students from all parts of the city began their studies here under the principalship of Mr. N. M. Williams.


FROM 1918 TO 1946, Mr. Charles P. Jester served as principal of Central.  By 1918, Central was rapidly reaching her maximum capacity of students. When the number reached twenty-four hundred annually, two temporary buildings of four units each and two additional rooms over the shop were built. When these did not ease the situation, Central's ninth grade was moved temporarily to Jefferson Street School.  Finally construction of other high schools was begun to accommodate the overflow. When the first of these schools were built, South Side in 1923 and Tech in 1929, the competition they offered Central served to spur the Warriors on to accomplish more than was thought possible in preceding years. These years were history making, as students with spirit high organized clubs, studied to receive more scholarships than any other Southern school, and won innumerable athletic trophies. 


IN FEBRUARY, 1934, to meet the increased demand for athletic provisions, the city of Memphis built the E. H. Crump Stadium on the spacious ground of Central.  A major part of her thirteen acres were relinquished as Central lost a practice field, tennis courts, and beautiful landscaping so painstakingly done by the Garden Club.  


FOR YEARS the Memphis High School Alumni Association presented Scholarships to deserving high school graduates. Miss Eleanor Richardson, on coming to Central in 1924, presented the idea of establishing Central's own scholarship fund.  Since books were not furnished by the school, students were asked to donate at the end of the year at least one of their school books to the "Bookstore."  Under the chairmanship of Miss Richardson, and. later Miss Keith and Miss McGrath, profits from the sale of these books and other school supplies increased each year, and the number of scholarships increased proportionately.  In 1928, under the chairmanship of Miss Elizabeth Horton, the bookstore was incorporated by the state and granted a charter.  In 1929, a loan system was instituted through which Central graduates who had completed a year of college work could receive college loans. In 1960, thirteen scholarships were granted.*  


THE WARRIOR, both newspaper and yearbook, has for fifty years accurately recorded Central's history.  In 1911 enthusiastic journalists produced Central's first publication, "The Bulletin."  This small magazine, containing literary contributions from the students, jokes, and editorials, later became the "Hi Standard," which also published reports of homerooms, athletics, and classroom activities.  By 1925, the "Hi Standard" had been replaced by a four-page newspaper called the "Warrior."  The February and June graduating classes each published a hardback yearbook of the same name. This publication, however, was published on such a tipsy financial foundation, that during the depression it had to give way to a paperback Senior Edition published annually.  It was only after the war years of the forties that we were able to expand and, through new printing methods, produce the larger, more comprehensive "Warrior" of today.  WARRIOR PUBLICATIONS have captured in print all of Central's accomplishments, progress, and ambitions.  In 1961 they reveal Central standing even greater than in 1911.


SPORTS FOR A HALF CENTURY!  Major sports, minor sports! Almost all have existed at Central at one time or another.  But let's begin when Central did. . . 1911.  Here we find football, baseball, and boys' and girls' basketball dominating the sports scene.  The small football squad of Central, then called "High," with no city teams to play, opposed such teams as the University of Mississippi, and the University of Tennessee.  "Old Hi's" team was often outweighed, but this lack of avoirdupois was made up for in part by pluck and speed.  In the winter of 1912, Coach Sullivan organized the "H" Club with one of its avowed purposes to "get 'H' men who had stopped school at the end of the athletic season to return to school."   The following year, the .first football banquet was held at the home of the captain, where lettermen and the new football captains were announced.  "High's" first boys' basketball team also played out-of-town teams such as Castle Heights, Jackson, Tennessee, YMCA, and Cumberland University.  PROGRESSING TO THE TWENTIES, we find the boys' basketball team playing its first year in the scholastic league, in which MUS, Tech, and CBC were also participants.  The girls' basketball team defended and kept their scholastic title in '21-22.  During those years, "Old Hi's football team fought it out on the gridiron at Russwood), with such teams as Tunica, Mississippi; Columbia, Tennessee; and Wakefield, Missouri, as well as the teams of high schools recently founded in Memphis.  In '23 a mascot, a turtle dubbed "Asthma," was presented to the football team.  SINCE THESE BEGINNING YEARS, "High" has gradually given way to "Central," and other sports such as golf, tennis, and wrestling have gained popularity. She has sponsored many championship teams: bowling in 1946, boxing in 1944-45, and swimming in 1953, as well as in the major sports. Central has always maintained an outstanding athletic program, necessary for any school's growth and prestige, and has produced famous athletes too numerous to name.


AMONG COMPETITORS, Central has always been outstanding.  Her tradition of excellence was begun as the century opened, when as Memphis High School she won honors in athletic contests with other Tennessee and Mississippi schools.  Then, as other Memphis schools challenged Central's abilities in varied activities, she began her performance which continues today - that of earning awards in every phase of school life.  Our crowded trophy case contains ample proof of victories in sports; on our walls hang plaques that honor those whose talents brought fame to our concert band and certificates of merit in all types of academic competition; in our publications offices are innumerable awards for highly-rated entries in national contests.   FROM THE DAYS when we were Memphis High School local citizens have contributed greatly to the establishment of Central's prestige by encouraging her growth in scholastic and athletic pursuits.  Memphis business firms throughout the years have supported Central by advertising in her publications. Many of the same advertisers are found in the earliest "Memphis High School Bulletin" and in our 1961 publications.

* (Webmaster note: Phil Aquino received one of the 1963 awards).

Building photographs by Catherine Dobbins (CHS '64) - click here

Click here to read about the Central-Tech Rivalry

The Graduating Class of 1932- Martha Johnson's (CHS '62) mother graduated thirty years earlier than she.

How many times was the school closed when you were there? Click here to read about some real closings.

School graduates have accomplished much.  Some are listed here:

         Kemmons Wilson - (1928 - 32) - See  Mr. Wilson's graduating class  here

         Avron Fogelman - (1958) businessman and  philanthropist

         Thomas Stern - (1939 - 43)   Physician and Educator

         Jane Walters - (1949 - 52) Commissioner of Education for the State of Tennessee

         Thomas Boggs (1959 - 62)   Restaurateur

         Paula Stern  - (1960 - 63) Chairwoman of the U.S. International Trade Commission 

         Russell Vollmer -     Memphis Athlete of the Decade.    Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame

         Charles Burson - (1959 - 62) Tennessee Attorney General 

         Taylor Reveley - (1958 - 61)   President, William and Mary 

         Bill Sanderson - (1959 - 62) Actor


If you want to suggest someone for the above list, please contact us


Memphis Central High School Websites: 1954  1955  1963  1967  1977  1982  1993 1994  


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